I issued a challenge to my daughter at the beginning of the year. A few weeks ago we started talking about the progress she has made (or not made). As she started listing some challenges that kept her from getting started, I saw an opportunity.
First, let me just say, I don’t spout leadership learning to my children every step of the way. I try to be very conscious of the sheer volume of information I impart on them, and the last thing I want is for them to grow deaf to my voice. But this opportunity was one of the times where I felt like I could speak up.
So, back to the pickup ride. She was listing all the possibilities and all the hang ups why those possibilities may not work. She wasn’t making excuses, but I could recognize some paralysis of analysis taking place. So I offered an image for her to consider: are these obstacles a speed bump or a wall?
Speed bumps are designed with one purpose: to slow people down. Now, you do have some wild people who use speed bumps as an opportunity to create a little havoc in their car, but most people slow down to an acceptable speed, or at least slow down while they swerve around the speed bumps.
Walls, on the other hand, are harder to navigate. Depending on height, location, purpose, construction, and other factors, walls don’t cause us to slow down, they cause us to stop. Very few people get to drive through walls, except for my brother-in-law who did that one time, on accident.
Speed bumps are not meant to stop us in our tracks. Speed bumps are meant to slow us down. In decision making, speed bumps are those things that give us hesitation, but ultimately cannot stop our momentum unless we choose to let them. Walls, on the other hand, stop us where we are. They prevent forward momentum. We can climb over a wall, or break it down, but it takes considerably more effort to do so.
In regards to the Three Questions, some people do not naturally ask the first question – What Needs to Be Done (Awareness). People who struggle with Awareness are faced with the choice as to whether they will allow the first question to be a speed bump or a wall. Will it be something they choose to push through, or will it be something that keeps them from making any progress whatsoever.
For others, the third question (Who Can I Get to Help – Leadership) is the most challenging. I fall into this category. I love accomplishing things, and feel terribly guilty when I ask others to help. So, if you’re like me, the decision we have to make is whether the third question becomes a speed bump that we push through and pass, or does it become a wall that stops us in our tracks.
Today, you’re going to face something you’re not excited about doing. You’re going to have a reason why you can’t or shouldn’t do something. Before you make your final decision, ask yourself this question: is this a speed bump or a wall? Then see what happens.